The Weeks Neighborhood in East Palo Alto is unique in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a richly green place with many large trees and open views, in sharp contrast to the concrete and freeways of much of the Bay Area. Many people come to the neighborhood and stay for a lifetime, creating a close-knit community. Historically it has been home to farming, due to its rich soils, abundance of clean water, and sunny climate outside the coastal fog zone. Communities like this were once common throughout the Bay Area, but today are rare.
However, change is happening in and around the Weeks Neighborhood. Land is being subdivided, houses are being built, new businesses and shopping centers are opening in surrounding cities, more people of all income levels are seeking housing, and more people are driving their cars through East Palo Alto. Through the City’s General Plan Update and this neighborhood planning process, East Palo Alto residents have an opportunity to respond to these outside pressures, to think about what they want East Palo Alto to look like five, ten or twenty years from now, and to define how they want growth to influence their community.
Over the next few years, a number of issues will directly affect the future of the Weeks Neighborhood. They include large-scale residential development near the Bayland, Gateway 101 shopping center, the City’s General Plan, Ravenswood Industrial Area, proposals for the University/Bay shopping center, and creating a Weeks Neighborhood Land Trust.
Weeks Neighborhood residents are realizing that they want to have a voice in the future of their neighborhood. They are becoming aware that they may not want it all to be developed, one lot at a time, for maximum profit. They are appreciating the importance of looking at the impacts on the neighborhood as a whole, and the city as a whole. They are looking at their neighborhood and thinking about what aspects of the neighborhood they like the way they are, and what aspects should change.
The Weeks Neighborhood Plan is a positive vision of the Weeks Neighborhood as a thriving place to live and work. It is based on the fact that farming and horticulture are still some of the strongest economic assets of East Palo Alto.
The residents want to build a sense of community in a healthy and safe neighborhood. They would like to see a variety of housing types for both existing and new residents. They would also like to see new jobs, training opportunities earn a living.
In the vision laid out in this plan, the Weeks Neighborhood will accommodate new housing and mixed-use development, especially near the University/Bay intersection, without sacrificing its existing and unique historic character. The Neighborhood Plan emphasizes economics, social, and educational activities focused on agriculture and open space. It envisions enhancing these assets to transform the Weeks Neighborhood into a friendly mixed-use residential and farming community.
The Weeks Neighborhood Plan lays out goals and recommendations for the following aspects of the neighborhood:
– Land Use and Urban Design
– Pedestrian and Bicycle Circulation
– Open Space and Conservation
– Economic Development
– Historic Preservation
This Neighborhood Plan was prepared with extensive participation of neighborhood residents, as well as other East Palo Alto residents, city staff, and community activists. It represents the perspective of neighborhood residents. It makes specific planning proposals to carry out a concrete vision for the Weeks Neighborhood. It was prepared between 1993 and 1996 through the collaborative efforts of East Palo Alto Historical & Agricultural Society, the National Park Service, and Urban Ecology. We hope Weeks Neighborhood residents will carefully consider the Weeks Neighborhood Plan and work to make their vision a reality.
The Weeks Neighborhood Plan
East Palo Alto Historical & Agricultural Society
National Park Service
The Weeks Neighborhood in East Palo Alto is characterized by large trees, green expanses and a rich agricultural history of small farms in an urban setting. The small close-knit community, together with the East Palo Alto Historical and Agricultural Society, seeks to avoid rampant, generic development and the land-use and traffic impacts that come with it. Instead, they want to direct a pattern of development that preserves the sense of community and local character of the Weeks Neighborhood. Despite its dangerous reputation, an atmosphere of opportunity, change, and potential permeates East Palo Alto. In 1996 the residents, through a community design process facilitated by Urban Ecology, created a vision of the Weeks Neighborhood as a thriving place to live and work, emphasizing community, economic, social and educational activities.
The Weeks Neighborhood Plan seeks to:
– Incorporate mixed-use development that respects the areas small-town, agricultural feel
– Build a range of housing types that current residents of East Palo Alto can afford to live in
– Expand park and recreation areas
– Support local businesses and urban agriculture
– Increase job training
– Preserve historic resources
New land use designations would preserve the existing urban agriculture and gardening in large-lot residential areas, and provide new multi-family housing along the denser avenues. The designations are intended to be adapted by the City of East Palo Alto for inclusion in both the General Plan update and the zoning code.